Are You Socially Accepted?



are you socially acceptedBeing accepted is necessary for us to grow emotionally, be and become a friend, partner, parent, etc as well as prevent us from isolation, inability to interact and self destruction. Our levels of acceptance do vary at different parts of life as when in school, our acceptance is based upon our intellect, ability in sports, physical attributes and our overall likability/personality. Our personality, many times when we look at acceptance, is guided by how well received we are and ultimately how popular we are as if we are rejected, we tend to shy away from who we are and try and reinvent ourselves to be what will be accepted. As much as we want to ensure that being yourself through being transparent and real, we know that some are people are different and are not accepted for who they are.

Communicating, Connecting & Being Accepted

We communicate to connect which leads to being accepted. When we are able to connect on either a small or large scale, we are accepted. This can be as simple as having a conversation with someone while waiting in line at the grocery store where we know that we may never see the person again however, we struck up a conversation that had us meet on common ground and for that short period of time, they accepted us enough to continue the conversation.

On a deeper level, we seek connections in our social media activities whereby we are able to follow/unfollow, friend/unfriend and connect at will. How many of our connections are born from a quick look at the profile where we hit the follow or friend button as they look ok and well they participated in the same chat, are friends with people we are friends with or tweet similar interests? Most of the time we do not know much about them as how could we? Unless we are communicating with them before we hit the button, we add them and are accepting them. The acceptance matters as if we are not accepted, we will not garner the attention that is needed to improve our rankings as the search engines are using social signals as a part of their algorithms or receive special targeted perks based upon our Klout score.

Fear of Disconnection

We all have a fear of disconnection. If someone does not connect with us that we feel should, creates a feeling of not being worthy of the connection – in other words something is wrong with us and not them. The underlying issue with the fear of disconnection is shame. As simple as it sounds it is much more complicated that that. When we think of the greatest inhibitors, we think of fear. Fear is one of the greatest inhibitors as contained within fear, is shame. Are we worthy of that connection? When we think about it, how can we determine if we are worthy of a connection with someone else? They determine that, however, when we are seeking connections, we make that determination.

We feel that we are worthy of the connection as we are asking for it but are forgetting that they can reject the connection. The rejection leads to the shame as there is something wrong with us and now we are vulnerable. If we are rejected by one or two or even three people, suddenly we become incredibly vulnerable and feel an immense amount of shame. We see others that have connected with them and now immediately start to avoid them as we think that every single time they communicate with us, they are thinking how we were rejected by someone that accepted them. This is not true but yet we we believe it to be.

What Makes Us Socially Accepted

Our first answer is being authentic, transparent, friendly, talking about them more than us however, it is more that that. What makes us socially accepted is being seen and being seen is being vulnerable. Being seen is not just showing up, it is us ourselves accepting our imperfections and letting people see them. Accepting our imperfections and embracing them is what makes us vulnerable. One rejection can and many times leads us to shut down. This shutting down tells others that we are not able to accept our imperfections so we have to hide them and, thus, are now not worthy of the connection. When we give out a piece of us and it is shunned, we are immediately looking at ourselves instead of them. Maybe they do not feel worthy of the connection as we have by virtue of trying to connect accepted our little quirks and they may not have accepted theirs.

We all fall into the insecurities of the rejection and in time do see that maybe it was them and not us or other times the pain of the rejection is too great that we are unable to rid ourselves of the shame of being rejected and fail to stop blaming ourselves. In rejection, we always need blame. Brene Brown points out that blame rids us of discomfort however, I think it goes a step further as it not only rids us of discomfort, it allows us to be seen and communicate once again. We are able to mask the shame which created the pain of rejection by finding people to support the blame as we tell it. Other times, the shame becomes too overwhelming and we are unable to admit to it. Every single day we hear advice on how to use social media to grow our business, we hear the success stories but how often do we hear that someone did not make it? Not very. Why? Shame. If we tell everyone we failed who will hire us in a job if we just were unable to make it on our own? No one wants to hire a failure and while this may or may not be true, we deem it to be in our minds.

Imperfections and Shame

Admitting that we are not perfect is never easy. We all know that we are not but getting down to the nitty gritty of where we are imperfect is hard. We know each and every blemish on our face, we see that 1 or 2 pounds that we gained as 10, we look to someone else to ask the question of what something means (and then of course support them for asking as we were too afraid to do so). Imperfections in our own selves are easy but exposing them are hard. What if no-one else jumps on board and cheers us on? We now are so ashamed for admitting it in the outside world. We should not be ashamed but more looking at others for not coming forward. Inside pep talk, maybe but at the same time why do we always point the finger at us and never look over at them? Admitting our imperfections is not easy and there is always someone waiting in the weeds to attack. Did we hit a nerve or something very close to home for them and now they have to take it on the attack to avoid their own shame?

We all have imperfections and with that comes shame. How we are able to accept the shame and expose it further is what makes us worthy of connections. In social media, there are levels of acceptance that we need to consider as exposing all of our imperfections at first glance will not have people flock to us as we need to earn that level of trust. Then again, when we start to gain a level of acceptance, we almost become more vulnerable as more people are listening and paying attention which could set us back. We are always waiting for that right time of that bit of acceptance, which is our break out moment. We wait for the right time to come out with that ebook, or 2nd or third ebook, the time to guest blog, the time to just be and that leads us to what are you waiting for? No time is a good time … ask any parent is any time a good time to have a baby? Are we ever really ready for what is to come? I have to say no as we are able to adjust and when we accept the imperfections and shame that goes with it, we are able to move forward.

I really hope you take the time to watch Brene as her talk as a part of TED on the Power of Vulnerability as it is very enlightening and delves much deeper than this post on how we connect and the worthiness we feel for connections. This goes both ways on being the connector and the connectee. While we want to connect and see our imperfections, do we always see theirs? Are they worthy of our connection? I think that needs to be explored more and as we see targeting in advertising growing, we need to consider this as our potential targets by filtering worthy and are we worthy of them and them of us?

photo credit: kalleboo

  • Nice read!  You have an interesting insight into why we use social interaction.  In todays world when seemingly everyone is on social networking sites, it is strange to see that people can have hundreds and thousands of ‘contacts’ yet know apsolutely nothing about them.  I guess, people just like to feel liked!

    • Matt

      Emotionally we have to feel accepted in order to excel. We need the acceptance and approval of others in order to build the confidence to interact. Failing to receive this approval and/or acceptance pushes us away and that leads to self doubt, shame and ultimately fear. It is not something that we think about a lot however it does exist. When people are looking for work the 10th rejection starts to make us question our resume or technique when it can be as simple as the company had to post the job and interview people or someone else was a better fit. Not all of us are the right fit for every single  job or for every single person to be friends with.

      People who surround themselves with a whole bunch of people tend to be more insecure as they feel that their self worth is measured in the numbers around them and not in the quality of the friendships. I know many who would rather have 10K blog subscribers that never open the email or RSS feed but the number shows 10K compared to 100 actual readers.

      • Suzanne,

        I think you are absolutely right. Take for instance on Twitter where some people boast about their number of followers and belittle those who don’t have as many. Yet, I wonder how many of those followers due they actually communicate with while some people with less followers might interact with every single one of their followers. What does it matter if you have 10k when no one reads when someone else has only 100 but they do read AND that person gets paid well for it.

        It just shows the variety within humanity. For some, they are socially accepted when they have a core group of friends and family. For others, they need a larger group of individuals to feel accepted. Is it bad? Not necessarily.

        • Sunny

          We all know that ego is a numbers game. Those with thousand and thousands of followers are perceived to be smarter, worth listening to and more worthy of listening to. Not sure how or why this happened but it did. Book deals are made with those with big followers as that would equate to book sales. Oh ok, I see the connection there. This is not to say that the folks with a lot of followers are not smart or connect, engage, etc with people. To value someone based on that number is where we have gone awry.

          PS – I love the comic on your blog about the NY Gay Marriage.

      • Nice informative reply 🙂

        I agree with what you say.  People are insecure and do tend to measure their self worth by the number of ‘friends’ that they have.  Of course, everyone needs to feel accepted by people to feel wanted and feel part of a community, it just appears that there is a growing number of people that value their number of ‘friends’ higher than their actual proper friends. 

        As a blogger, I am sort of caught in between.  I need to branch out and make a lot of contacts to help with my business, many of which I don’t know that well.  Often, I and other people that blog, are judged by how many contacts they have, almost as an indicator of trust.  People are much more likely to listen to what you have to say if you have 20,000 Twitter followers, rather than 10. 

        I think that the most important thing is value your true friends, instead of just the number of them.        

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  • Anonymous

    What gains us acceptance is not vulnerability, but in being/having what other people want.

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